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2018-19 Budget Enews

On-Time, No-Tax-Increase State Budget Approved

6/22/18 - Passage of 2018-2019 State Budget
The State Senate voted overwhelmingly and in a bipartisan effort to approve the 2018-19 general fund budget today.

This budget was put together to be sensible in its size and smart in its priorities, and that approach should serve our state well over the next twelve months, plus provide a solid base for the following budget.

Taxpayers, as well as the citizens and institutions dependent on state funding and services, are relieved to finally have a state budget completed on time and done without the acrimony that marred recent years.

A no-tax-increase budget is always good news for families. The relatively low increase in overall spending is consistent with public demands that state government become more fiscally responsible and accountable.

Education at every level is always top priority in state budget making, and the increases for basic and higher education well reflect that. The final result contains increases for a variety of institutions that were not helped in the initial proposal.  The standout commitment of funding is for Pre-K Counts.

In human services, this budget puts extra money toward critical services that improve lives, provide care with dignity, and open up doors. This includes care for seniors, assistance for those with intellectual or physical disabilities, care for children, and visitation services for families impacted by the opioid crisis.

There are a few essential areas where new funding is committed, notably school safety and job skills development. Upgrading public safety and better preparing workers for the workplace rank high on the lists of what people expect state government to do.

There is an ongoing debate over what measures will be most effective in making schools safer. This special funding will allow local schools to decide what more they need in the way of personnel, equipment, or services to provide a safer environment for students and teachers.

The need for more intensive and readily available career and technical education has been reinforced by employers who have great difficulty finding individuals with skills suited for available positions. The key is connecting students with programs in line with their interests and for which there is job demand.

Given all the public safety concerns and challenges in our communities, the money to train three new cadet classes of state police is especially significant. This could result in nearly 300 additional troopers.

Budget Highlights

  • The final spending total of  $32.7 billion is just $560 million over the current year’s spending – below the rate of inflation, and well within the limits prescribed in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. It also allocates money to the state’s Rainy Day fund for the first time in more than a decade.
  • The budget also makes a historic investment in school safety with more than $60 million in new funding for school resource officers, security equipment and other proven methods of preventing school violence.
  • A significant part of the additional spending is devoted to education. The budget increases funding for Basic Education by $100 million, Pre-K Counts and Head Start by $25 million, and Special Education by $15 million.  Educational Improvement Tax Credits – which help students trapped in failing schools – will also see a $25 million increase.
  • Higher education is also a priority in the budget. State System of Higher Education funding will increase by 3.3 percent, and funding for state-related universities will increase by 3 percent. Community colleges will also see a 3-percent boost in funding.
  • Additional funding is also included for the Pennsylvania State Police to train three new cadet classes, which will result in nearly 300 additional troopers.

Other highlights include additional funding for:

  • Services for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
  • Home and community-based services for an additional 5,230 seniors and those with physical disabilities.
  • Child care services to an additional 1,600 children.
  • Home visit services for 800 families impacted by the opioid epidemic.
  • Career and Technical Education to ensure Pennsylvania’s workforce keeps pace with the demands of the labor market.

The budget also recognizes the importance of three industries that have historically been among Pennsylvania’s most critical sectors of the economy: agriculture, manufacturing and tourism, restoring funding that the Governor’s original budget plan cut.

For a line-by-line look at the 2018-19 budget and how it fares compared to the 2017-18 budget, click here.

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